Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne AKA King Buzzo took to Seattle's KEXP to play a four song set, consisting of cuts off of his latest LP, This Machine Kills Artists. The performance was recorded on June 20th, but uploaded July 20th onto KEXP's YouTube channel.
With only a brief introduction, Buzzo launched into the opening track from his recently released album. This album marks Buzzo's first exclusively acoustic LP in a career that extends over three decades, including his work with the Melvins. "Dark Brown Teeth" featured his trademark sludge-metal chops, as well as crisp dexterity, with no distortion present to mask his playing. Using only a flat pick, Buzzo demonstrated his virtuosic abilities on the guitar, all while singing the lyrics. Even with only a guitar and his voice, he is capable of filling all of the space generally reserved for an entire ensemble.
He segued directly into the second song of his brief performance, "Rough Democracy," which corresponded with the second cut of the album. This track ramped up the tempo and allowed for the man -- decked out in mostly black garb, with wizardly white hair -- to really let loose. Here he offered up some of his most rapid riffs of the whole performance.
The ending of the song prompted a brief interview with KEXP's Hannah Levin where they discussed how he came to the decision of making an acoustic album, and the trials and tribulations that came with the choice. Buzzo discussed how recording the album was a simpler process than usual, without the need to teach others the music, but reminded us that the studio is a forgiving environment.
Buzzo's aptitude for arrangement really came through during his performance of "Laid Back Walking." His utilization of dynamics and texture allow for his stripped-down instrumentation to prosper. Towards the end, King Buzzo dropped his pick, and when he briefly interrupted the performance to recover a fresh one, Levin assured him that its no big deal. "That's what I've been telling everybody, when I screw songs up, I'm just startin' them over," he said before beginning his final song of the set.
Like the aforementioned tracks, the position of "Drunken Baby" in the setlist corresponded with its placement on the album. Buzzo incorporates a certain element of form in all aspects of his art. This song revealed another level of Buzzo's mastery of form and his compositional prowess as a whole. He crooned over his guitar playing, which was at certain times melodically blissful, yet became remarkably dissonant during others. His playing was always highly rhythmic and after strumming the final chord, Buzzo yelled, "There! I did it."
King Buzzo Live on KEXP 6.20.2014 Setlist:
1. "Dark Brown Teeth"
2. "Rough Democracy"
3. "Laid Back Walking"
4. "Drunken Baby"
Source: KEXP YouTube Channel